Student Life and Simple Normalcy

Rachel Blau
May 6, 2019
IES friend at Oedipus Brewery

Rarely reflected in the blog is the normalcy of most of my days. Here's what daily life looks like here: I wake up at 9 or 10 a.m. when I don't have early classes. I make breakfast and lunch in my kitchen, which is unfortunately largely ill-equipped (no oven or freezer!) and has resulted in a lot of steamed vegetables and fried things. I bike places sometimes, to De Pijp or Museamplein. I blog. I study, a lot! The courses here are very rigorous and require a lot of effort! My first period classes I kept up with all the work the whole time, though now in the second period I find myself slacking a bit. Although this period I have nearly twice as many class hours per week! So maybe it evens out.

As a university student I am also afforded the opportunity to just learn and be inspired, which I definitely am doing! If I were forced to go to class here and was continually uninterested in the topic, what a massive waste of time that would be. But that is definitely not the case. I've taken five classes while here; Challenges of the 21st Century (an anthropology class), Corporations Crime and International Conflict, Small Business Development, Sex Work in the Times of Anti Trafficking, and Dutch. And wow! Each one has made me think in a completely different way, and has contributed a lot to my experience here, and also to my academic development. I think in a lot of ways I feel reaffirmed in my independent major—Social Enterprise—and especially so when I meet and interact with social enterprises here, of which there are many.

This week I have lots of assignments and group projects due, which have been challenging but mostly enjoyable, especially given how well I get along with my Small Business Development group; they are all Dutch and some of the sweetest people I've met here. They've served as a really nice entry point into the VU community.

When I'm not studying, I try and go out with friends. One of my most favorite things to do here on Wednesday nights is volunteer at "Wasteless Wednesdays" with an organization called Taste Before You Waste, where I've formed a bit of a community. Lots of internationals as well as Dutch students have taken me in and made me feel extremely at home. I love the vibes of the space, the local beers, the wholesome vegan food that I get fed as a volunteer. I've been going nearly every week, and this week they let me take over the bar, which felt like moving up in the world. If you have a chance to go for dinner or volunteer, I would highly reccomend!

Also this week on Thusday night, IES Abroad had a "borrell" or a casual gathering with beer and food (translation?) at Oedipus Bewery, an awesome brewery in Amsterdam Noord that makes all types of sour beers—my favorite! For IES Abroad students, the first beer and snacks were free. I went with a bunch of IES Abroad friends, and it was such a great way to recconect! Everyone here has been extremely kind and warm—something about this program attracts really great people.  

Until Next Time,


Rachel Blau

<p>Hi! My name is Rachel Blau and I’m a Junior at Brandeis University studying Business and Social Enterprise and minoring in English and Legal Studies! In my free time I love climbing, hiking, cooking, reading, and<br>traveling. One fun fact about me is that this semester I’ll be serving as the Amsterdam global ambassador for KAHAL, connecting Jewish students abroad to local resources!</p>

2019 Spring
Home University:
Brandeis University
Waltham, MA
Business Administration
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